Finance Minister Carole James has faced questions for weeks about the effect of a new property tax on vacation homes. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Pressure on Carole James to ease B.C. speculation tax

Vacation home owners plead for relief from vacant home levy

As B.C. Finance Minister Carole James prepares changes to the speculation tax she announced in her February budget, protests continue to come forward from people hit with steep new costs for their vacation homes.

Dave Pentland of Surrey says he is looking at a 500 per cent increase on his share of a Salt Spring Island vacation property he and his brother inherited. He calculates that his tax bill for the property would go from $1,849 to $9,284, which is nearly a quarter of his retirement income.

He says he and his brother are not speculators, and want to keep the property in the family.

“The NDP’s speculation tax has really left me with one option,” Pentland said. “Pay the tax until the next election and hope for a change in government. If the government does not change then I cut my losses, hand the keys to my brother and walk away.”

Retirees Tom Stewart and his wife sold their “modest home” in Ontario and bought a condo there and an apartment in Oak Bay where they spend half the year. Stewart says the proposed two per cent surtax on the apartment will cost at least $5,000 a year, which they can’t afford on their retirement income.

The couple has relatives in Ontario and don’t want to try to find a new doctor if they move to B.C. full time to avoid the tax. And the strata corporation that runs their Oak Bay apartment doesn’t allow rentals.

“It is frustrating that our retirement dream is being quashed almost from the outset,” Stewart said. “We are pretty far removed from the alleged target of the legislation.”

RELATED: Arizona snowbirds ‘pushed out’ of summer homes

James is expected to announce changes to the tax Monday afternoon.

As originally announced in the B.C. budget Feb. 20, the speculation tax would be charged to out-of-province residents who inherited a family summer or ski cabin, if it is in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Nanaimo or Capital Regional District, or the municipalities of Kelowna and West Kelowna.

It is to begin at 0.5 per cent of property value, rising to two per cent later. People who pay income tax in B.C. would receive a tax credit, but some say they don’t have enough income to cover the cost of the speculation tax.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

7 Mile Landfill operations tender closes October

Taxes covering the landfill have not increased over the past 15 years and are not expected to soon.

PHOTOS: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

NorthIsle starts drilling in Pemberton Hills area after negotiating deal with Freeport

Mining industry one step closer to a revitalization after farm-out agreement

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

Only 40% of B.C. car dealerships have electric cars available: report

Researchers found buyers frustrated at the lack of options

VIDEO: Millionaire Lottery returns to give back and win big

Since 1996, Millionaire Lottery has raised $52 million for the VGH+UBC Hospital Foundation

Test case challenges a politician’s right to block people from Twitter account

3 people say Watson infringed their constitutional right to freedom of expression by blocking them

‘A little odd’ B.C.’s biggest city celebrates cannabis without a legal store

On the streets of downtown Vancouver, notably the Wild West of illegal marijuana, not a single legal store opened Wednesday, making for a rather anticlimatic kick-off

BC Ferries begins taking debit in two-month pilot project

Company is giving customers option to use Interac on two-month trial on select vessels

Puff, puff, pass: Cannabis is officially legal across Canada

B.C. has only one bricks-and-mortar marijuana store

After 50 years, ‘Sesame Street’ Big Bird puppeteer retiring

The puppeteer who has played Big Bird on “Sesame Street” is retiring after nearly 50 years on the show.

Britain, EU decide to take some time in getting Brexit right

Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said “we need much time, much more time and we continue to work in the next weeks.”

Most Read